US 8077735 B1
The invention is a method and system for mobile communications. A mobile communicator communicates with a network routing center. The communicator monitors each of two or more wireless carriers for a service characteristic. The communicator selects, based on the monitored service characteristic, one of the two or more wireless carriers. The mobile communicator can then communicate with the network routing center using the selected wireless carrier.
1. A transceiver comprising:
(a) a medium access controller;
(b) a first set of control logic in the medium access controller for configuring the transceiver for communicating over two or more wireless carriers; wherein one or more of the wireless carriers comprises a wireless frequency carrier;
(c) a second control logic in the medium access controller for monitoring each of the two or more wireless carriers for a service characteristic; and
(d) a third control logic in the medium access controller further for selecting, based on the monitored service characteristic, one of the two or more wireless carriers that the first control logic configures the transceiver to use to communicate.
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15. In a transceiver, a method comprising:
(a) configuring the transceiver for communicating over two or more wireless carriers; wherein one or more of the wireless carriers comprises a wireless frequency carrier;
(b) monitoring each of the two or more wireless carriers for a service characteristic; and
(c) selecting, based on the monitored service characteristic, one of the two or more wireless carriers for the transceiver to use to communicate.
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This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/475,545, filed Jun. 27, 2006, issued as U.S. Pat. No. 7,362,716, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/086,182, filed Feb. 26, 2002, issued as U.S. Pat. No. 7,068,610, each entitled “SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR RELIABLE COMMUNICATIONS OVER MULTIPLE PACKET RF NETWORKS.”
This invention relates generally to the field of wireless communications systems. Specifically, the invention is an improved system and method for providing reliable communications over multiple packet radio frequency (RF) networks.
The challenge faced today is that several RF wireless networks exist (satellite, terrestrial, wideband and narrow band) in frequency ranges from AM broadcast through to the high gigahertz for satellite transmission and also with a myriad of technology or air interfaces. Individually, a single RF network may not complete a desired solution but if combined with another type of RF network or networks would be ideal.
Several current technologies allow for frequency band and network switching, allowing mobile communicators to select the available carrier in the region through which they are passing. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,901,307, issued to Gilhousen et al., and assigned to Qualcomm, Inc., describes a multiple access, spread spectrum communication system and method for providing high capacity communications to, from, or between a plurality of system users, using code-division-spread-spectrum communication signals. The system described therein uses various configurations of circuitry and power level variation to allow for dynamic carrier switching, including between satellite carriers and terrestrial carriers. Such a system may be used by the system of the present invention to accomplish carrier switching, and therefore the contents of U.S. Pat. No. 4,901,307 is hereby incorporated by reference in full herein.
None of the prior art systems, though, provide optimal carrier selection based on quality of service issues, least cost routing and/or characteristics of the data that is being sent. Nor do prior art systems provide one or more hubs or network routing systems that verify service for the mobile communicators and perform message path routing. Nor do prior art systems provide automatic lookup of the current carriers being used by each mobile communicator at a network routing center.
The problems and shortcomings of the prior art described above and other problems and shortcomings are solved by the systems and methods of the present invention. A transceiver, also called a communications management module (CMM) or mobile communicator is provided and may comprise a mobile hardware plus software apparatus that is configurable dynamically or over-the air to communicate via various radio frequency, microwave, infrared, laser, satellite, and terrestrial networks that exist both today and as well as in the future with technology advancements. The transceiver, comprises a medium access controller. A first set of control logic is in the medium access controller that configures the transceiver for communicating over two or more wireless carriers with a network routing center.
A second control logic in the medium access controller monitors each of the two or more wireless carriers for one or more service characteristics which are part of an air interface personality for each wireless carrier. A third control logic in the medium access controller further selects, based on the monitored service characteristic, one of the two or more wireless carriers that the first control logic configures the transceiver to use to communicate with the network routing center.
With reference to
The NRC 400 may interface the specific satellite and terrestrial networks with wire and optical based physical interfaces (such as T1, Ethernet, ATM, Frame relay, TCP/IP etc). By using applications program interfaces (APIs) (170 in
A second control logic 114 in the medium access controller 110 monitors each of the two or more wireless carriers 201-203, 20 n for a service characteristic 211 a-212 a, 21 na which is part of the air interface personality 211-213, 21 n for each wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n. A third control logic 116 in the medium access controller 110 further selects, based on the monitored service characteristic 211 a-212 a, 21 na, one of the two or more wireless carriers 201-203, 20 n that the first control logic 112 configures the transceiver 100 to use to communicate with the network routing center 400.
Each control logic 112-116 is comprised of a hardware based control logic, software based control logic or a combination hardware-software based control logic. Those skilled in the art would appreciate that software based control logic comprises software that causes the hardware components of the transceiver 100 to produce radio signals of the proper strength, frequency, amplitude, etc. for transmission over one of the wireless carriers 201-203, 20 n based on the measured service characteristic 211-213, 21 n. Those skilled in the art would further appreciate that the software based control logic could alternatively be implemented using hardware based or hardware-software based control logic.
The service characteristic 211 a-213 a, 21 na may comprise, for example, a quality of service characteristic or a least cost routing characteristic. Examples of quality of service characteristics include a bit error rate, a signal to noise ratio, a packet loss rate, path fade, packet latency or network latency for the respective wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n.
An application program interface 170 is included with the transceiver 100 that is consistent with an application program interface 470 in the network routing center 400 regardless of which of the two or more wireless carriers 201-203, 20 n are selected by the medium access controller 110. Those skilled in the art are familiar with APIs 170, 470. APIs 170, 470 generally comprise software applications that, as part of API 170, 470 function, shield application programs from system and hardware level calls. This way, the application program can use universal calls to an API structure. The APIs 170 and 470 of the CMM 100 and NRC 400 respectively allow for the software programs, and hardware, to access lower communication level functions without regard to, for example, the specific protocol used for the currently used wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n.
With reference to
One or more of the nodes 100-100 a may comprise transceivers 100-100 a such as that described with respect to
One or more other nodes 300, 300 a may be connected to the network routing center 400 through a terrestrial network 250 which may either be wide or local in type. For example, nodes 300 and 300 a may comprise desktop computers connected to the terrestrial network 250 using modems and dialup lines, cable television systems, digital subscriber lines, or other hard wired terrestrial or wireless local area networks familiar to those skilled in the art. For example, the network routing center 400 may transmit information to nodes 300, 300 a by means of standard TCP/IP, Ethernet, T1/E1, LAN, WLAN, etc.
In one embodiment, the transceiver 100 uses messages or data packets 140 for reception and transmission. For communication using data packets 140, the transceiver 100 may comprise an applications data monitor (ADM) 120 having a message buffer 144. The ADM 120 may comprise either a set of software program instructions to be executed on a processor 130 in a transceiver main processor 130 or an independent ADM 120 processor to execute those instructions.
The transceiver 100 includes a processor 130, wherein one of its functions is processing the data packets 140. The processor 130 may comprise an integrated circuit (hardware), coded instructions stored in non-volatile and/or volatile memory (software) in combination with an integrated circuit. Part of the processing of the data packets 140 comprises determining a message type, priority, packet length, destination and air interface availability for each data packet 140. The message type, priority, packet length, destination and air interface are influenced by the software application running on the electronic device, such as a computer or cell phone, using the transceiver 100. The ADM 120 internal to the CMM 100 determines the message type, priority and air interface. The medium access controller 110 selects a wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n based on one or more of the determined message type, priority, packet length, destination and air interface for each data packet 140. The medium access controller 110 is further for converting each data packet 140 to an appropriate protocol based on the one selected wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n.
One example of a protocol that a wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n may use, for which the medium access controller 110 must format the data packets 140 appropriately for transmission, is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,832,028 entitled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR COHERENT SERIAL CORRELATION OF A SPREAD SPECTRUM SIGNAL,” issued to Durrant et al. on Nov. 3, 1998. In the system described in that patent, a technique for modulating and demodulating CPM spread spectrum signals and variations of CPM spread spectrum signals is used. If a wireless carrier, for example, 203, uses that technique, then the medium access controller 110 prepares the data packets 140 so that their representative signals may be divided each into a plurality of data streams (such as I and Q data streams) for independent modulation of the I and Q data streams using CPM or a related technique. The medium access controller 110 then superposes the plurality of resultant streams for transmission so that the NRC 400 may receive the superposed spread spectrum signal and simultaneously attempt to correlate for a plurality of chip sequences and demodulation.
With reference back to
The transceivers 100, 100 a that are remote from the network routing center 400 are also referred to herein as mobile communicators 100, 100 a. Each gateway 451-453, 45 n included in the network routing center 400 interfaces with a different wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n. A processor 460 is included in the network routing center 400 that, as part of its functionality, is used for updating each of the one or more carrier indicators 422 to reflect the wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n depending on which gateway 451-453, 45 n receives a message 464 from the respective mobile communicator 100, 100 a that transmitted the message 464. The processor 460 may comprise an integrated circuit (hardware), coded instructions stored in non-volatile and/or volatile memory (software) in combination with an integrated circuit. The network routing center 400 comprises a received message buffer 462 for storing each message 464 received from a mobile communicator 100, 100 a.
With reference to
Peer-to-client host types of messages 464, 140, for example, may be those that are for transmission from a mobile communicator 100 to one or more terrestrial nodes 300, 300 a. Peer-to-peer/peer-to-client host types of messages 464, 140, for example, may be those that are for transmission from one mobile communicator 100 to another mobile communicator 100 a and/or to one or more terrestrial nodes 300, 300 a. Put in other terms, three types of communications are: host connection, peer-to-peer and a hybrid. The host connection is one that is initiated by a host, 300, 300 a to deliver information to one or more CMMs 100. 100 a, either individually or in a group. The peer-to-peer communication is one that an individual CMM 100 initiates to communicate with another individual CMM 100 a or group of CMMs 100, 100 a. The hybrid communication is one in which a CMM 100 communicates with another CMM 100 a or group of CMMs 100, 100 a and one or more hosts 300, 300 a.
The message may also include a priority indicator, also called priority 478, for indicating the priority of the message 140, 464.
With reference back to
If a message type 472 indicates that the message 464 is for transmitting to one of the mobile communicators 100, 100 a, then the processor 460 selects one of the one or more gateways 451-453, 45 n, and thereby one of the networks 201-203, 20 n, for transmitting the message 464. In this case, the message may have been received from a host-client node 300, 300 a (
The processor 460 updates each carrier indicator 422 to reflect which radio frequency gateway 451-453, 45 n receives messages 464 from the respective mobile communicators 100, 100 a. This is how the processor 460 is able to select the proper gateway 451-453, 45 n for sending a message 464 if one needs to be sent to a specific mobile communicator 100, 100 a.
The system creates a mezzanine system effect. This structure allows for the addition and deletion of any individual wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n with simple command changes to the NRC 400 registration matrix processor 460 software instructions. The delivery system is, thus, transparent to the user of a node 300 of CMM 100, but allows for dynamic and total reconfiguration with simple commands at the NRC 400.
With reference to
Part of configuring the transceiver 100 to operate using different wireless carriers 201-203, 20 n may involve, for example, loading logic or accessing circuitry of the transceiver 100 to operate in different frequency bands and power levels to switch between a terrestrial network 201 and a satellite network 202. Less power may be required for the CMM 100 to communicate with a terrestrial repeater in the terrestrial network 201, given the reduced distance between the CMM 100 and the terrestrial repeater compared with a satellite repeater. Thus, one feature of the transceiver 100 is to vary the power level of the signal depending on the specific network 201-203, 20 n used.
The satellite network 202 may have orbital repeaters that can use basically the same circuitry as terrestrial repeaters except that advanced VLSI and hybrid circuit techniques can reduce the size and power consumption in the repeater. Small and light transceivers 100 have been proven for satellite communication, such as the MOTOROLA 9505 portable satellite phone, that can be purchased from Iridium, Inc. of Plano, Tex. The circuitry and configuration of such a light mobile communicator can be integrated with the CMM 100 of the present invention, to be accessed selectively depending on the selection of the carrier 201-203, 20 n by the medium access controller 110. A detailed explanation of power, frequency band, and circuitry switching is provided in U.S. Pat. No. 4,901,307 incorporated by reference above.
With reference to
The processor 460 checks for whether the carrier indicator 422 stored in the matched registration record 424 reflects the wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n of the gateway 451-453, 45 n that received the message 464, step 610. If not, then the carrier indicator 422 is updated (stored if first contact is made) in the registration matrix 410, step 612. The received message 464 is stored in the message buffer 462, step 614.
With reference to
If the message type 472 indicates that the message 464 is a to host type message 464, then the message is routed over the network 250 to the node 300, 300 a indicated by the message destination 474, step 714.
Processing moves back to step 700 for processing the next message 464 in the message buffer 462.
With reference back to
With reference to
The next step in this process is the identification of the packet destination, step 814. The information sent by the application regarding the identification of the message type 472 is extracted from the ADM buffer 144 and may be combined with another host or destination value to create final destination information. The output generated by combining these values is then sent to the ADM buffer 144 for use in the CMM 100, steps 815-816.
The next step in this process is the selection of the air interface or wireless network 201-203, 20 n that the data will be transferred across, step 818. The medium access controller 110 is responsible for the selection of the wireless network 201-203, 20 n that information will be transmitted/received across. The details of channel selection are covered below with reference to
The next step may be the addition of global positioning satellite (GPS) information. The GPS information is read from the MAC buffer 118, step 820. The MAC 110 is where GPS receiver circuits may reside. The GPS information is transferred to the ADM buffer 144 as part of the completed protocol stack of the ADM for use in the CMM, step 822. The GPS data is read when a user application may require it to be transmitted.
The next step in the process is the addition of the original data packet to the ADM buffer 144, steps 824-826.
With reference back to
The MAC 110 may continuously monitor the stored air interface personalities 211-213, 21 n and search for available networks 201-203, 20 n. In the event that no RF network 201-203, 20 n should be available, the data to be sent is stored for future transmission once a valid RF network 201-203, 20 n is available.
The APE process queries the information that is stored in the ADM buffer 144. The information of interest to the APE process is the message type 472, message priority 478 and the message packet length, which are moved into an APE process buffer (122 in
The quality of service issues regarding the selection of the RF network 201-203, 20 n may have several considerations involved. The considerations may be bit error rate (BER), signal to noise ratio (SNR), delay spread, packet loss rate, path fade, packet latency and network latency. These issues may be monitored by the APE process in connection with the network routing center to aid in the APE final selection of the appropriate RF network 201-203, 20 n. Each of these characteristics is effectively tested using known methods and the results are stored as an aggregate value in the APE process buffer 122. Another consideration for the APE process may be least-cost-routing.
Information relating to the cost per byte of a particular network 201-203, 20 n is stored as part of the air interface personality information 211-213, 21 n, 211 a-213 a, 21 na. Additional information stored in the ALP 211-213, 21 n database may include the unique CMM-ID 124 (these Ids are one in the same). The Cost per byte information may be continuously updated from the NRC 400 and stored in the AIP database 211-213, 21 n. Once the APE process finishes determining the least cost route for the data, network 201-203, 20 n selection is made, step 916. The information relating to the particular wireless network 201-203, 20 n is extracted from the air interface personality database 211-213, 21 n and loaded into a RF digital processing section of memory in the CMM 100 for final configuration for RF network 201-203, 20 n use, step 918. Additionally, the air interface personality database 211-213, 21 n information is sent to a protocol stack converter 126 so that the ADM buffer 144 can be converted into the appropriate air interface protocol for the selected wireless carrier 201-203, 20 n, step 920.
With reference to
The MAC 110 also may have an additional element. The digital processing section, consisting of a processor 130 and APE application 1006, of a memory 1004 may hold a minimum of configuration information for two wireless networks 201-203, 20 n loaded at any one time and a maximum number of networks that is equal to the AIP database 211-213, 21 n. The reason for this is that it is possible with this configuration to split a message 140 for transmission into sections to send over two different wireless networks 201-203, 20 n. For example, a message 140 could be transmitted partially over network 201 and partially over network 203 and recombined at the NRC 400 as one complete message 464.
The MAC may also include components that those skilled in the art would recognize such as processing buffers 1008, databases 1010, digital converters 1012, filters 1014, modulators 1016, signal converters 1016, RF processors 1018, an antenna 1020, and/or wireless local area network interfaces 1022.
With reference to
When completed with the identification of the message type 472, final destination 474 and the message priority, the NRC 400 can now establish the path for delivery of the message 464, steps 1130-1132.
In the case of a message transmission for message types 472 peer-to-client host, the message 464 in the NRC buffer 462 is sent to a protocol stack converter for preparation of delivery to the client host 300, 300 a. Client host 300, 300 a initiated communication is very similar to the CMM 100, 100 a initiated communication. They share the same steps and the same components reside in the process. The difference between the two is that the NRC 400 may use AIP, APE and ADM processes that were explained relating to the CMM 100, 100 a, when dealing with a client host 300, 300 a initiated communication. Essentially the process follows the identical steps to that of the CMM initiated communication.
For peer-to-peer communication, the process in the CMM 100 is the same as previously explained. The minor difference in that case is the routing of the information. In the peer-to-host example, at the NRC 100, data was routed to the host. However, in the peer-to-peer example, the data is routed through one of the RF networks 201-203, 20 n to be sent out to another CMM 100, 100 a or group of CMMs 100, 100 a.
As can be seen by this description, the flexibility is tremendous in that any desired combination of networks 201-203, 20 n can be connected at the CMM 100, 100 a simply by routing the data of the multiple single networks 201-203, 20 n to a network routing center 400 to allow routing to a specific CMM 100, 100 a or group of CMMs 100, 100 a. The CMMs 100, 100 a themselves are configurable over-the air (OTA) to allow for dynamic network or system updating/configuration. Additionally, the problem of incompatible networks 201-203, 20 n is eliminated in that a CMM 100 communicating utilizing, for example, carrier 201 can easily communicate with a CMM 100 a that is utilizing carrier 202 because of the routing path the data takes throughout the system.
It will thus be seen that changes may be made in carrying out the above system and method and in the construction set forth without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is intended that any and all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
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